The Fall 2020 Semester marks the 50th anniversary of the National Theater Institute. Since 1970, the National Theater Institute has provided a space for its students to go beyond the limits of what they imagine theater to be. To "Risk. Fail. and Risk Again."

"The idea for NTI occurred to J Ranelli when he was a student at Wesleyan. 'I was looking for a thesis project. I had brought a couple of people from the O'Neill to Wesleyan to do workshops - [director] Gene Lasko and [writer] Frank Gagliano. The kids had loved it, we loved it. So I'm thinking, why can't this be part of the undergraduate experience?...I'd get some O'Neill people, and we'd do a boot camp, three-week thing in the summer.

"Then David Hays and some others started talking about starting a school. I spoke to the president of Wesleyan, Victor L. Butterfield, and I said, 'I have this idea. Some schools offer a junior year abroad. I'd like to get the theater departments of a group of colleges together, create a little board, and administer what would be at the O'Neill.'"

"And so I brought that to George C. White, and he went to his contact at the Rockefeller Foundation. I wrote the proposal - it would be one term, and we would look to bring the students in the second term of their sophomore or first term of their junior year. What they took from this could be applied to their choices in the remainder of their liberal arts studies. It really was in service of liberal education."

The O'Neill: The Transformation of Modern American Theater by Jeffrey Sweet


Have any pictures, mementos, or memories from your time at the National Theater Institute? Share them with us at


Support NTI scholarships! Every year, alumni give back to ensure opportunity and access to the transformational, intensive experience of NTI for those who follow in their footsteps.


Stay tuned for upcoming events! Be the first to know by updating your contact information.


305 Great Neck Road

Waterford, CT 06385

(860) 443-7139

  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White YouTube Icon